Bee-friendly paradise at Bleinheim flower show this weekend
Visitors to Blenheim Palace Flower Show in Oxfordshire this weekend (Friday 20-Sunday 22 June 2014) can enjoy a lush paradise buzzing with bees around nectar-rich flowers contrasted with a barren landscape where all the bees have perished, in Friends of the Earth’s specially designed show garden.
The Bee Cause Garden has been created by Pickard Garden Design students Chooi-leng Tan and Saori Imoto to raise awareness about the plight of bees, as part of Friends of the Earth’s campaign for tough Government action to end the severe decline in numbers of these crucial pollinators.
More than 20 UK bee species are already extinct and about a quarter of those remaining are at risk, largely due to habitat loss – 97% of wildflower meadows have disappeared in the past 60 years.
Friends of the Earth’s Nature Campaigner Paul de Zylva said:
“The Bee Cause Garden shows the essential role of bees to keep our countryside and gardens blooming – we have this iconic species to thank for putting food on our plates and fruits like strawberries and apples.
“The Government must ensure that its Bee Action Plan fully tackles the unprecedented crisis that our bees face, especially threats from intensive agriculture and pesticides.
“Gardeners can play their part too by growing the right plants bees seek for food, providing nesting spaces and avoiding using chemicals. Bees are the gardener’s friend – it’s time to give these vital pollinators the help they desperately need.”
Oxford Friends of the Earth campaigners have pushed the county to be a leader in local action to save bees, securing agreement for a committee to coordinate diverse efforts to protect bees – from politicians, farmers, businesses and local authorities to conservationists, beekeepers and students – at a successful Bee Summit in February.
Oxford Friends of the Earth Campaigner Fiona Tavner said:
“Our bees and other wild pollinators need our help as much as we need them – and everyone can get involved to be part of the generation that saves them.
“We’re working hard to persuade farmers and other landowners, including people at home, to grow more bee-friendly plants – our vision is for Oxfordshire to become a hub that links habitat corridors from north to south.”
Visitors to Blenheim may also be inspired to join Friends of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count, a new citizen science project to help build a national picture of bee health that launched on BBC Springwatch last week. People are encouraged to spot bees with a special smartphone app that enables them to identify different species. So far, 18,000 people have logged more than 372,000 bee sightings. Download the app at www.greatbritishbeecount.co.uk.
Friends of the Earth’s Nature Campaigner Paul de Zylva added:
“The Great British Bee Count is a great way to help save bees and learn more about this iconic species while having fun – you don’t need to be an expert to get involved.
“The data that people submit will help scientists improve their understanding of where bees are thriving – and where they’re in trouble.”
Key facts about bees:
• Bees pollinate 75% of our main crops worldwide, including some of our favourite fruits like apples, strawberries and tomatoes, and textiles such as cotton.
• An independent study by the University of Reading estimates that it would cost over £1.8 billion every year to pollinate UK crops by hand.
• We have bees to thank for summer favourites from strawberries and cherries (dependent on wild bees for pollination) to cider (bees pollinate apples and boost their flavour) and gin and tonic (tonic water is flavoured with quinine, made from bee-pollinated Cinchona).
Notes to editors
1. Blenheim Palace Flower Show is in its second year, and is expected to attract 40,000 visitors over 3 days. Open 10am-5pm, 20-22 June: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1PP. The Bee Cause Garden is one of 10 show gardens, winner announced on Friday 20 June. http://blenheimflowershow.co.uk/index.htm
2. The garden has been designed by Chooi-leng Tan and Saori Imoto, students at Pickard School of Garden Design. http://www.chooileng.com/ Visitors to the Bee Cause garden will be able to enter a raffle to win a free consultation with the garden designers at their home on how to make their gardens bee-friendly. There is also the option to buy the entire show garden to be recreated at a different location.
3. Download the free, easy-to-use ‘The Great British Bee Count’ app via App Store or Google Play or at http://greatbritishbeecount.co.uk/, where you can also submit sightings online. App suitable for iOS and Android devices. By reporting the type, numbers and locations of bees they see, people will be contributing data to the National Biodiversity Network, used by experts investigating the plight of bees and the steps needed to help them.
4. Oxford Friends of the Earth http://www.oxfoe.co.uk/ is a voluntary group of local residents who work to promote a healthy environment. It coordinated the first Oxford Bee Summit in February 2014 at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, which gained commitment from Oxford City Council to develop a more coordinated strategy towards bee conservation, including growing more pollinator-friendly plants. Oxford Friends of the Earth will be working more with local organisations and the Council to progress further action, and has already created a Bee World - a wildflower mini meadow on The Kidneys nature reserve by the River Thames.
5. Friends of the Earth has led the campaign to save British bees and other pollinators since launching its Bee Cause campaign in April 2012, which convinced the Government to introduce a national Bee Action Plan (National Pollinator Strategy - NPS) by building a coalition of more than 200 MPs, businesses such as B&Q and the Co-operative, the Women’s Institute and over 70,000 individuals. The environment charity is now warning that the NPS needs to be improved to fully address all the problems bees face. http://www.foe.co.uk/bees
6. BEE-FRIENDLY GARDENING TIPS from Alys Fowler, who appeared on BBC TWO’s Great British Garden Revival in January 2014, and has presented Gardeners’ World and her own show The Edible Garden. She writes a weekly gardening column for the Guardian and is the author of five books including The Thrifty Gardener, Abundance and the soon-to-be-released Letters to a Beekeeper @AlysFowler:
• Plant nectar and pollen-rich flowers such as crimson clover (trifolium incarnatum) to please the bees and increase soil fertility through nitrogen-fixing roots.
• Allow edible plants attractive to bees like coriander and rocket to flower; once pollinated you can collect seed to sow for next year.
• Provide a clean source of drinking water – such as a shallow bowl with a few pebbles in the middle, so the bees can rest and sip water.
• Wild bees need dry, warm nesting sites. Make a ‘bee hotel’ by bundling together old stems of stuff like Jerusalem artichokes or bamboo canes south west facing out of prevailing winds. [Step-by-step guide to making a bee hotel http://www.foe.co.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/bee_hotel.pdf]